Thursday, March 31

Book Review: The Scarlet Pimpernel

Title: The Scarlet Pimpernel

Author: Baroness Emmuska Orczy

Pages: 299

Summary: The first and most successful of the Baroness Orczy's series of books featuring Sir Percy Blakeney, who leads a double life as both an English fop and a swashbuckling rescuer of French aristocrats. The Scarlet Pimpernel was the precursor to what became known as the masked-avenger genre. In 1792 during the French Revolution, twenty English aristocrats - "one to command, and nineteen to obey" - form a secret society to save their French counterparts from the guillotine. No one knows who they are, but the leader sings his notes with a small red flower, a scarlet pimpernel. A fictional and wishful creation of the author, who was forced to leave her native Hungry as a young woman due to fear of a peasant rebellion, The Scarlet Pimpernel, first produced as a play in 1902, and its sequels made the fortunes of the Baroness.

My Rating: 8.5/10

What I liked/disliked about the book: I enjoyed the book, it had a very lovely flow to the writing, that made it easy to get lost in the book, not to mention the character, the Scarlet Pimpernel, was a fun character to read about and root for, making for a very enjoyable read.

The writing style was solid. It has a very nice flow that is consistent throughout the book, and even in the more slow parts, the book is easy to get through. The author has a very lovely narrative, that keeps the readers interest, has an elegant flow, but it isn’t over flowerily with long descriptive passages (which I do enjoy, but I know some readers are turned off by this) the gives the reader some lovely descriptions, but doesn’t veer off the story to much to do it. She meets half way between the old classic tales, and the modern. It made for a pleasant read, and some of the passages of the land around them, painted some fantastic pictures in my mind.

The character of the Scarlet Pimpernel was intriguing, and fun to read about. The reader can easily get behind him and route for him. I really enjoyed reading about how he was rising up against the powers that be during the French Revolution, his character traits often reminded me of some of my all time favourite characters - The Three Musketeers, so it made for an engaging read, even though there weren’t many action packed scenes.

One aspect I didn’t like about the book was the focus on Mrs. Blakeney, her character bothered me throughout the book and her role, even when she was “helping”, (or in her mind she was), she bothered me. Nothing about her made me think she was brave or smart, she just seemed like the a hysterical woman of the time period, who was stupid, weak and butting in where she didn’t belong, and nearly paid the price for it. I didn’t see a woman rising above her time, to do good like the author intended, and her role in the book was a huge issue for me. I wanted more on the adventures of the rebellious Scarlet Pimpernel, and how he is helping his fellow rebels, more on him helping people escape etc. I’m hoping in later books, the focus is more on this. (Never knew there was a series of book, now I’ll have to check out!).
Overall, an enjoyable read, and will most likely read more in the series.

Would I recommend it to read: Yes, it is a great classic read for any fan of classic literature, and it would probably be a good choice for those who don’t like the classics as much, because it reads at a faster pace than most in its time.

What to read next: The Three Musketeers, The Black Tulip, The Counte of Monte Cristo and the other books from the series.

Challenges: 11 in 11, 100+ Challenge, A - Z Challenge, Historical Fiction Challenge,


  1. I have never read this book! Crazy. It's crazy because I LOVE the tv show with that grat actor whose name escapes me now..... hmmmm. As soon as I hit post I am sure the name will come to me. Anyway, thanks for the reminder that I really need to pick this one up soon.

  2. Best mistake I ever made at the library was getting the Scarlet Pimpernel instead of The Scarlet Letter (this was around the time of the Demi Moore movie, so I wanted to read the book)
    Loved the Pimpernel! hated the Letter!

    Also, I vaguely remember an episode of Wayne and Shuster on CBC called the Scarlet Pumperknickel.

  3. I enjoyed this book, but I really didn't like the wife. I thought she was pretty shallow and not a great person at all.

  4. I have heard a lot about this book as being one of the most fun classics to read, and after reading your review, I am definitely intrigued. Even with the one character being sort of a pain in the butt, this book sounds excellent. I think I am going to have to score my own copy! Great review, Jules!

  5. Becky - It's worth picking up, I wonder how faithful to the book the show was. Hope you get to pick it up soon.

    Raidergirl3 - Now, that is a good mistake! Glad it worked out for you, funny how those work out eh?

    Aatri - Glad I'm not the only one who didn't like the wife, I felt the author wanted her to be the hero of the book, but she just wasn't.

    Zibilee - She doesn't ruin the book, get's on ones nerves yes, but it's such a fun book. And a great classical read.